MULTIPARTY democracy is undeniably a necessary ingredient in the full functioning of a modern day government. This is the case because multipartyism provides the window through which almost all quarters of the citizenry; the voiceless, the vocal, the poor, and the rich voice out their individual or popular fears, concerns, and aspirations.
It would help to note that the concept of multiparty democracy has been generally adopted and widely practised by governments around the world. Despite its general acceptance and wide application, the concept remains a living mockery to humanity’s failure to clearly define its most cherished, oftentimes weird, concepts for the betterment of human existence.
Perhaps you would quickly agree that most developed countries practise multiparty democracy in such ways that it positively responds to the development agendas of their countries by paying special attention to the key issue of numbers. Laughably, here in Malawi, multiparty democracy is practised not in such ways that it fosters political prudence and socio-economic wellbeing but in such ways that it exhibits these and fosters individual interests, perpetuates eco-political uncertainty, and kills nationalism.
In as much as multiparty democracy, elusive and illusive as it is, is this politically all-inclusive, it sounds reasonable to question its applicability to Malawi development agenda, especially in the loose sense it is practised.
Cut loose, Malawi’s thirty-plus political parties, born in the name of multiparty democracy, are not health for Malawi’s development agenda.
The presence of the many political parties also means presence of many, always diametrically opposite, ideologies, interests, and views which results in the production of passionate, mostly meaninglessly paraphrased, outbursts that offer no tangible alternative to the concerns of the citizens; but only either adding voice for addition’s sake or simply announcing that them and their briefcase parties are both alive and kicking.
In all fairness, one would proudly claim that Malawi should pat itself on the back for having produced the finest souls keenly serving its political life since the introduction of multiparty dispensation. The people leading the various political parties in Malawi, despite evidently having no clear agenda, have the passion, the will, and the political stamina to offer the toolbox containing the right tools necessary for the unlocking of Malawi’s real development potential.
It would be naive to think that these political parties do not know that they hold the keys to Malawi’s much-dreamt-about social, economic, and political independence.
But the problem with these political party leaders is that they are all too obsessed with possession—the ‘my thing’ mentality—to the extent that offering someone beneficial advice from the backbenches becomes morally suicidal and politically disastrous.
Quite frankly, were the resources, mental or otherwise, used by these political parties pooled together to few political parties, there would have been order in Malawi, both in terms of governance and development.
Assume that, as the article proposes, there were only three political parties in Malawi. Assume further that the finest minds from the disbanded (or deregistered?) parties joined at least one of the three parties. Theoretically, 11 presidents of different political parties would form an executive of a single political party if the information that Malawi has 33-plus registered parties is anything to go by. This exercise would mean that three political parties contain the pool of knowledge and experience needed to guide the direction of positive development.
Furthermore, this would also mean creating a conducive environment for informed and well-articulated criticism which would be a big plus in as far as ensuring checks and balances is concerned. Also, it would mean giving government the time and the resources for consultations since three political parties would not be as resource-demanding and time-consuming as is currently the case.
Additionally, reduction of political parties to countable three would go a long way towards amalgamation of the merged parties’ ideologies to realistic and feasible concepts. Here, the ideologies would be given meaning and direction, and would be the rallying and negotiating tool when it comes to political decisions and action.
However, it would be nationally unthinkable to reduce the political parties to two because such a number of parties would be susceptible to bribery, to silencing, and most sadly, to baying for government blood to further their vested interests. With this in mind, it is therefore not only democratically positivistic but also developmentally suitable to propose a three-party multiparty democracy because such a third would be a tie-breaker.
To this end, it is tempting to warn that unless Malawi trims its political parties to three, and unless the multiparty democracy is practiced in such a way that it responds positively to its development agenda, Malawi would be a Peter Pan of the development world.
But the post-Bingu era offers Malawi an opportunity for a fresh political start with promises of a better tomorrow should the opposition political parties consider themselves partners in development with her government.